These Andean children are looking through a window into their schoolhouse. I'm inside; they are not. Seems like it should be the other way around, but this particular day is not a school day. It is an extremely rainy day. Just a few miles from here, the trail ascends to a 15,000 foot pass where it's snowing fiercely. Our guide doesn't want us to cross in those conditions. He negotiated with the small village to let our group of adventure travelers use the one-room schoolhouse until the weather breaks. For the children, this is a novelty.
I saw a lot of children while hiking in the Peruvian Andes. Most of them were also hiking, but they were hiking to school. Some people live within the bounds of a small village, but many families are isolated, quite distant from the school. The children I saw seemed to enjoy hiking several miles—big wide smiles on their faces. But perhaps they were smiling because I and my companions were an odd-looking group of tall people with hiking sticks, funny hats, and big boots.
- Ages 6 - 11: 92% ages 6-11
- Ages 12-16: 66%
- Literacy--96% in urban areas, 80% in rural areas.
What about water? See Peru: Water Isn't for Everyone. A few excerpts . . .
"Water is not only in short supply in Peru, but it is also poorly distributed in relation to the population. Seventy percent of the people live in the arid strip along the Pacific Ocean, where just 1.8 percent of the country's freshwater supply is found."
"According to the Oxfam report, more than half of Peru's rivers with highest demand for use are severely polluted: the Chira, Piura, Llaunaco, Santa and Huallaga rivers in the north; the Chillón, Yauli and Mantaro in the central region; and the Chili River in the south."